The 2013 big game hunting seasons are winding down. Hunters everywhere are either basking in the glow of a successful season or languishing in a disappointing one.
Hopefully, they are also cleaning up their gear, removing batteries from their electronic aids, washing their clothes, making lists of gear that needs to be replaced, and putting everything into storage so it is all ready to go for next season. Heck, some of us are so addicted to hunting that we not only wrote a hunting season diary, but have also now looked through it and picked out the things we did right and wrong this year so we can have better success next year.
Quite simply, hunting season may end, but as die-hard hunters, it’s never far away from our minds.
However, while taking hunting journal notes can be fun, and while virtually everyone knows the importance of storing and replacing gear in a secure and timely fashion, there’s at least one other end-of-season step that most big game hunters need to take, and it’s an easy one to forget: the state hunting report.
Most states require their big game hunters to submit a mandatory hunting season report. Different states may require you to report different information (including – but not limited to – harvest numbers, hunting locations, and days hunted), but if you bought a hunting license this year, you probably need to take some sort of step to “close it out,” as it were.
Check with your state’s Department of Natural Resources or Department of Fish and Wildlife to find out what your specific requirements are. If you need to report your hunting season statistics, do it. The reasons are clear.
Unless you want a major headache next fall when you go to register for your 2014 hunting license – which, let’s face it, no one wants – you need to make sure that you complete any reporting requirements relating to your 2013 tags. Some states will not allow you to register for a new hunting license until you’ve closed out the old one with a report. Others institute fines against hunters who don’t complete their mandatory reports by a certain date. Either way, you don’t want to deal with having to pay a fine, and chances are that you will be better equipped to answer survey questions about your hunting season now than you will be in five or 10 months.
Why are these reports important? For many states, the big game hunting reports are what scientists use to assess deer, elk, or other animal populations in a state. They can play a part in everything from hunting license prices to bag limits, and from big game management units to hunting season dates. In other words, if you fail to report your season success (or failure), you’ll not only be doing a disservice to yourself and your state natural resources department, but also to the animals you hunt and to your fellow hunters.
So take a few minutes, go online, and fill out your hunting season report if it’s mandatory. Even if you had a rough year, your report will give your season the closure needed for you to move on and plan for a better year in 2014. Trust us, getting fined for a missing report is not a good way to start a new hunting season.